CAP 271 - Computer Animation Portfolio Project

Chapter 12 - Copyright & Portfolio


The text presents an informative discussion of proper and improper use of copyrighted material. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. Legal term
  2. Fair use
  3. Other people's rights

Chapter 12 introduces you to a world of contention. It should be clear that a person should have the right to use his or her own work, and should not use the work of others. In the third paragraph of the chapter, however, even this matter becomes unclear. What if your work was done for a fee, and the work was copyrighted by whoever paid the fee? In a case like this, "your" work becomes "their" work, and you would be in violation of their copyright if you used the work for your own purposes.

The text provides some working definitions of terms used in the chapter:

  • intellectual property - something that was created by a human mind
  • copyright - exclusive right to an intellectual property. Note that the text explains that copyright must be granted by a government agency, and the actual rights associated with it will vary from one government to another.
  • trademark - a visual and/or verbal expression used to distinguish the products of an entity from those of another. For example, the Nike Swoosh is a trademark, and may not be used by entities other than Nike unless the use has been approved, or is fair use.
  • fair use - the concept that some uses of copyrighted material do not violate copyright. For example, in the page linked above, Wikipedia displays the Nike emblem as part of a reference article (educational use) about the company. More on this below.
  • infringement - improper use of a trademark or copyrighted material
  • cease and desist order - a legal order that requires an entity to stop improper use of trademarks or copyrighted material; alternatively, a person who believes that someone has infringed on their work may send a cease and desist letter to the presumed violator

YouTube has posted an informational video about copyright that clarifies some points. Let's watch it then illuminate the part they left a little vague. YouTube Copyright Video

The text elaborates on fair use, explaining that use of copyrighted material by other than the copyright holder must be examined under four lenses to determine if the use is allowed.

  • What is the intent of the use? It may be a fair use if the intent is not to make money, if it is done for educational purposes, if it is a satire or parody, or if it is used as part of a review.
  • What is the nature of the copyrighted material? The text points out that you can copyright a presentation/expression of an idea, but you cannot copyright facts or ideas themselves. The discussion at the page linked to above adds that unpublished, private material may have no fair use, since the author has not made it available in any form at that time.
  • How much of the work has been used? The concept of use for a review, for example, assumes that you may quote a portion of a copyrighted text, but you may not quote the entire text. A movie reviewer may show a portion of a film, but not the entire film. Further, if a filmmaker includes a portion of another film in a scene (e.g. the included film is playing on a television in the scene), permission must be granted or it is an infringement.
  • Does the new use affect the marketability of the original? If a shoe store sells imitation Nikes as though they were real Nikes, the trademark holder suffers a loss of those sales.

Consider these case summaries where fair use was claimed, and sometimes allowed, sometimes not. Each case that is decided by a court or a jury may have a different outcome from what we might consider a similar case. What does this tell us? That we are on shaky ground when we use the work of others, especially if we get paid for it. (Note: Do I get paid for these web notes? No, I do not. Are they for educational purposes? Yes, they are. Am I taking you to private information with these links? No, I am taking you to public web pages for enhancement of your education.)

The text continues with examples of acts that might violate the rights of others. Consider the discussion of derivative art on page 241 (second edition, page 261). I asked another class to create an animation that featured a company logo. Did this violate the statement that "only the original work's copyright owner can copy, duplicate, reprint, alter, or adapt it"? Since it was done as a school assignment, and was not done for profit, no, it did not. Had we asked a TV station to run the animation for a local store to sell the product, that would be a violation.

How about the discussion of derivative style on the same page? The text tells us that we can't copy the work of another artist, but we can produce our own work in the style of that artist. However, it would be wrong to copy the style of a given piece so much that your work could be mistaken for another version of the same work.

Assignment: Derivative Style

  1. The text offers, as an example, a poster of Bob Dylan created by Milton Glaser. This link will take you to a Google search page showing images of the poster.
  2. Consider this piece of art, done for an article about Bob Dylan.
  3. Using the information from the text and the net, interpret the situation here. Did the second artist create derivative art, did they use a derivative style, or is there no issue at all? Justify your answer with references to the text or to another source of legal interpretation.

For more on the subject, read this interview with Milton Glaser about the work of artist Shepard Fairey.

Assignment: Video Review

  1. There have been several assignments this term that required models in 3DS Max, both in this class and in the 203 class. Collect animations or stills of each of them in a single folder on your work drive. (Create the animations and stills if you have not created them yet.)
  2. Use After Effects to create one video file featuring all of the videos you collected in step 1. This video must be delivered to me in class for grading by the start of the next class. It may be created as an AVI or an MOV file. (Review your book for After Effects and the class notes if you have forgotten how to do this.)
  3. Consider this as a first draft of what you must produce as one element of your portfolio. The portfolio may or may not include the work that I expect to see in this assignment.